Kelly, Francis W, CAPT

 Service Photo   Service Details
15 kb
View Time Line
Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Chaplain Christian
Last Primary NEC
410X-Chaplain Corps Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Staff Corps Officer
Primary Unit
1967-1969, 410X, 5th Marine Regiment
Service Years
1942 - 1969
Chaplain Christian

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

13 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sheila Rae Myers, HM3 to remember Kelly, Francis W, CAPT.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Corktown, PA
Last Address
Oceanside, CA

Date of Passing
Jan 09, 1982
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
2 E-226-B1

 Official Badges 

US Navy Retired 30

 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

The two facts that stand out about Captain Kelly is that he is considered the most decorated chaplain of WWII and his story appears in the book and the movie "Guadalcanal Diariy".

Although he was an ordained priest who was loved by the congrgations of the various churches he led, he is best know for his military service.

Captain Kelly was born in Pennsylvania in 1910 and later ordained in 1937. He served as assistant pastor of various churches before he enlisted in the Navy in February 1942. He served with the U.S. Navy and Marines as a chaplain.

As a Navy chaplain served in both World War II and the Korean War. In World War II, he shared foxholes with Marines on Guadalcanal and other islands in the Pacific. He participated in the landings at Guadalcanal and Tarawa and most of the major battles of the Solomon Islands. He earned the nickname "Father Foxhole Kelly" because he spent most of his time in the foxholes with the Marines. He was portrayed by actor Preston Foster in the film version of the book "Guadalcanal Diary".

He was discharged from the Navy in 1946 and served four years as assistant of St. Robert's Roman Catholic Church in Chester. He also served for a short duration at St. Helena's Church in Philadelphia.

In 1950, he requested permission to reenlist in the Navy during the Korean War. He served again as Navy Chaplain from 1950 until his discharge in 1969.
Other Comments:

Legion of Merit
For duty during the Battle of Tarawa

Chaplain Kelly with great energy and devotion to duty did much to aid and abet morale of the personnel of his unit prior to the actual landing. During the actual battle and even before the beachhead was cleared of enemy activity, he had begun work on the first cemetery for Marine dead. For three days and nights, almost without rest and always at personal risk, he efficiently carried out the tedious task of clearing the battlefields of our many dead. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.

The information contained in this profile was compiled from various iinternet sources.
 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

 Duty Stations
Chaplains School1st Marine Division5th Marine RegimentNaval Chaplaincy School and Center
MCAS Camp PendletonNAVSTA Rota, SpainNAVSUBASE New London/GrotonCommander Naval Installation Command (CNIC)
  1942-1942, 410X, Chaplains School
  1942-1944, 410X, 1st Marine Division
  1945-1945, 410X, 5th Marine Regiment
  1945-1946, 410X, Naval Chaplaincy School and Center
  1950-1951, 410X, MCAS Camp Pendleton
  1951-1953, 410X, 1st Marine Division
  1953-1959, 410X, NAVSTA Rota, Spain
  1959-1965, 410X, NAVSUBASE New London/Groton
  1965-1967, 410X, Commander Naval Installation Command (CNIC)
  1967-1969, 410X, 5th Marine Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings
  1942-1943 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)
  1942-1945 World War II
  1943-1943 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Gilbert Islands Operation
  1943-1943 Gilbert Islands Operation/Battle of Tarawa
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Iwo Jima Operation
  1951-1951 Korean War/CCF Spring Offensive (1951)
  1951-1953 Korean War
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Feb 02, 1942, Commissioned in the Navy at the Rank of Lieutenant (jg)
  Oct 01, 1942, Promoted to Lieutenant
  Nov 01, 1942, 2 Phila. Area Priests Serving in War Zone1
  Dec 07, 1943, Chaplain in Thickest Tarawa Fighting1
  Mar 12, 1944, Marines Decorate Tarawa Chaplain1
  Apr 01, 1944, Awarded Medal1
  Oct 17, 1944, Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
  Apr 01, 1945, 2nd Presidential Unit Citation1
  Jan 13, 1950, Landed With the Marines in WWII1
  Nov 01, 1950, Promoted to Commander
  Dec 22, 1950, Famous Chaplain Back With Leathernecks1
  Jan 29, 1951, Father Kelly to Serve With Marines in Korea1
  Mar 24, 1951, Easter Story Will Be Retold in Korean Hills1
  Mar 30, 1951, Marine Chaplain-Hero Rejoins First Division1
  Sep 12, 1959, Kelly Replaces Kelly at Base1
  Sep 04, 2017, About the break in Navy service
  Sep 04, 2017, General Photos4
  Sep 04, 2017, Civilian pastorates
Copyright Inc 2003-2011